3.26.15 - 7 Minutes With... Dave White

By JT Ellison

I am so excited to welcome my Killer Year mate and great friend, Dave White, to the Tao. Dave is a one-of-a-kind writer. His Jackson Donne novels are incredibly cool — PI novels with heart and sheer drop-off-a-cliff stories. And he’s at that amazing time in life where the changes are so abundant–marriage, children, being published, not necessarily in that order–that I can’t wait to see what the next decade brings to him. (Did I mention he was published in his twenties?) To have so much talent at such a young age… I guarantee his future will be amazing, and I can’t wait to read his new novel, NOT EVEN PAST. Welcome, Dave! It’s great to have you here today!


Set your music to shuffle and hit play. What’s the first song that comes up?

“Too Drunk to Dream” by the Magnetic Fields… which, I think, is a song I haven’t ever listened to—or haven’t in a very long time. Seriously, how did that end up in my iTunes?

Now that we’ve set the mood, what are you working on today?

This interview. Heh. That’s so cheating, but it’s true. I’m writing this on a Sunday. I just sent my editor a draft of the next Jackson Donne novel, AN EMPTY HELL, and I’m trying to figure out what I want to write next. I’m also kind of taking a break from writing for a little bit and catching up on reading and Netflix.

What’s your latest book about?

NOT EVEN PAST sees my series character and former private eye, Jackson Donne, returning for his first novel in almost 7 years. He’s finally figured his lift out—gone back to college, got engaged, toned down the drinking—and just before exams, he sits down and checks his email. What he finds takes him to a video of his long-thought-dead finacée Jeanne tied to a chair, but very much alive. Donne has no choice but to find out what happened, how and why she’s alive. And the deeper he digs, the more dangerous the case gets, potentially shattering him and everyone to close to him.

Where do you write, and what tools do you use?

I usually write at home on my couch using my laptop. I write in Word. I’ve tried to use Scrivener, but it’s too complicated for my brain. So I stick with what I’ve always used. I take notes in a separate file and save moments I’ve cut in another file as well.

What was your favorite book as a child?

I loved the Hardy Boys series, but I’m having trouble singling one out. However, I also loved Sherlock Holmes and THE SIGN OF FOUR keeps coming to mind.

What’s your secret talent?

I can wiggle my ears, and I’m a pretty good rebounder in pick-up basketball.

What book are you reading now?

I am almost done with Laura Lippman’s AFTER I’M GONE, which has really drawn me in the past couple of days. Laura’s standalones are so good at spiraling downward, taking ordinary moments and making them full of tension and emotion.

After I finish it, I think I’m going to try Taylor Stevens’ THE INFORMATIONIST.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve written stories for as long as I can remember, getting a Sherlock Holmes story published in my school paper in elementary school. I wrote and drew my own comic books too—so I’ve always been a storyteller. But I think it was my sophomore year in college, when I wrote a mystery story and my professor told me it was good enough to be published. That’s when things really started igniting for me.

Who is your writing idol? Have you met him/her? If so, did you completely nerd out or keep your cool?

My writing idol was always Robert B. Parker, who I’ve actually never got to meet, unfortunately. I wish I had a really good fanboy story for you, because lord knows I’ve embarrassed myself tons of times in front of people. It used to be a daily occurrence, but I am drawing a blank coming up with any good stories.

What’s your favorite bit of writing advice?

“Ass in chair.” It basically comes down to that, sitting and doing it. Writing as much as you can and following it through.

What do you do if the words aren’t flowing?

I walk away. I go play with my son or play a video game on my iPad or work out… I do something other than writing. Usually when I come back, I’ve unlocked whatever it was that was stopping me up. That said, some days you just have to power through. The words aren’t always going to flow, you’re rarely going to have a day where you get 1000 words done in 45 minutes or whatever. Sometimes it’ll take two or three hours… those days you just have to sit there—ass in chair—and get it done.

Are you creatively satisfied?

Wow. Um. I’ve never thought about it like that. I love the books I’ve written, and I think they’re very good. I am satisfied with them. Am I creatively satisfied though? There is a lot more I’d like to do. I’d like to write a comic book one day. I’m still hoping to write a “big book”—something different. There’s a lot on my checklist that I’d like to get to. But that doesn’t mean I’m unsatisfied…it just means I have goals.

So, yes, I think I’m creatively satisfied with what I’ve done so far and what I have on the schedule. But there is still more I want to do.

What would you like to be remembered for?

Being a good person, a good family man, and someone who made an impact. I’m a writer, and I hope people remember my books, but I’m also a public school teacher and I hope I’ve made some positive impact on people’s lives and they’ll remember me going forward.

Alright, now for the really important questions:

Beach or mountains?

Beach, but probably pool, if I can cheat.

Coffee or tea?

Coffee—multiple times a day

Skydive or bungee jump?

Um. I’ll just stay here if that’s okay, guys. You have fun.

Chocolate or vanilla?


Winter or summer?

Winter, winter, winter. I’m going through cold weather withdrawal and it hasn’t even really started to heat up yet.

Cake or pie?

Cookies. (Fine… cake… unless the pie is pizza.)

Cats or dogs?


Pens or pencils?


Truth or dare?


Print or ebook?

I go through phases, but haven been stuck in print for about a year. I like being able to flip ahead and know how long a chapter is.


Dave White

Dave White is a Derringer Award-winning mystery author and educator. White, an eighth grade teacher for the Clifton, NJ Public School district, attended Rutgers University and received his MAT from Montclair State University. His 2002 short story, “Closure,” won the Derringer Award for Best Short Mystery Story the following year. Publishers Weekly gave the first two novels in his Jackson Donne series, WHEN ONE MAN DIES and THE EVIL THAT MEN DO, starred reviews, calling WHEN ONE MAN DIES an “engrossing, evocative debut novel” and writing that his second novel “fulfills the promise of his debut.” He received praise from crime fiction luminaries such as bestselling, Edgar Award-winning Laura Lippman and the legendary James Crumley.

Both WHEN ONE MAN DIES and THE EVIL THAT MEN DO were nominated for the prestigious Shamus Award, and WHEN ONE MAN DIES was nominated for the Strand Critics Award for “Best First Novel”. His standalone thriller, WITNESS TO DEATH, was an ebook bestseller upon release and named one of the Best Books of the Year by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. All three books have been reissued by Polis Books and are available wherever ebooks are sold.

And here’s a little more about NOT EVEN PAST:

Finally, Jackson Donne has it figured out. After leaving the private investigation business, he’s looking toward the future — and getting married to Kate Ellison. Donne is focused on living the good life — planning the wedding, finishing college, and anticipating a Hawaiian honeymoon — until he receives an anonymous email with a link and an old picture of him on the police force. Once Donne clicks the link, nothing else in his life matters. Donne sees a live-stream of the one thing he never expected. Six years ago, his fiancée, Jeanne Baker died in a car accident with a drunk driver. Or so Donne thought. He’s taken to a video of Jeanne bound to a chair, bruised and screaming, but very much alive. He starts to investigate, but quickly finds out he’s lost most of his contacts over the years. The police hold a grudge going back to the days when he turned in his corrupt colleagues, and neither they nor the FBI are willing to believe a dead girl’s been kidnapped. Donne turns to Bill Martin — the only man to love Jeanne as much as he did — for help. And that decision could cost him everything.

Via: JT Ellison


The Artist's Way

By noreply@blogger.com (Alexandra Sokoloff)

You haven’t heard much from me for a while. I’ve been insanely busy – emphasis on “insane” – with all the preparation and marketing involved with the Huntress series, relaunching Huntress Moon and Blood Moon and launching Cold Moon with Thomas & Mercer in a rollout over just five months.

But that’s not all there’s been to it. The last part of last year was really hard, in a professional sense.

The delays in the release of Cold Moon made me anxious and depressed. At the same time that I was grappling with that, I committed myself to a complete overhaul of Screenwriting Tricks for Authors before taking it to print – and ended up doubling the material in the book. I’m thrilled with the result and I know you all will be, too, but it took time away from my fiction writing and stretched me more thin than is really healthy for me, or anyone for that matter.

Also, I’m writing Book 4 in the Huntress series and I seem to be writing three different books at once, which, while it is probably exactly the process I need to be going through, is also hugely confusing.

And oh yeah – I started Book 1 of a new series set in Scotland and in LA.

All of this while I have been adapting to life in a new country. That marginally speaks English, but not always. Especially after a few pints.

Are we starting to get what’s wrong with this picture?

It was time to stop the madness and reassess.

The good news is, I didn’t have a complete nervous breakdown.

The better news is, I knew how to heal myself.

Some of you may be familiar with Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Waya classic on creativity, spirituality, and recovery. It’s a twelve-week program sort of based on twelve-step programs, but for artists and creativity.

The Artist’s Wayis a huge commitment. You do Morning Pages every day (three mandatory pages of free form writing) and an Artist Date every week, plus numerous assignments on top of that. This is what I decided to do on top of everything else I was doing. Crazy, right?

But I knew I had to do something.
Workaholism is a big problem for me. Let’s be blunt – I get a lot of rewards from it. Certainly it pays off in a career sense – it’s kind of the job description for a screenwriter and pretty much for an author, too, if you want to make a living at it. There’s another big payoff, too. When I’m insanely busy I don’t have to think about myself much. Or at all.

But you know…. that’s maybe not so great.

The Artist’s Wayis designed by someone who has had all those issues and knows the score, including all your sneaky little tricks.

The first time I did the program, I didn’t make it all the way through the twelve weeks. I rarely did the Artist Date. I openly scoffed at and ignored most of the suggestions for fun stuff. And I certainly didn’t do some of the scary deeper work – like the week of reading deprivation. (Yes, that means an entire week of no reading. I know some of you out there just stopped breathing at the very thought).

But even not doing it full out, the breakthroughs that happened for me at the time I was working the program and in the year or two after I did it were extraordinary. I finished Huntress Moon, decided to e publish it instead of going for another traditional publishing deal, and did it to big success. I got back all of my backlist of traditionally published books and launched those books as e books. I wrote my YA thriller The Space Between, and wrote a romance version of Screenwriting Tricks for Authors. I started teaching a college film class, which I loved. And, oh yeah – I met this guy Craig Robertson…

This time through, the breakthroughs are already coming fast and furious. Sometimes I’m taking two weeks to do the work suggested for a week. Sometimes I’m skipping stuff. I put off the reading deprivation while I was doing copyedits, but I did it last week, a full week, and WOW. (I’ll write about that in a separate blog.).

I already feel so much more aligned and focused. I can’t wait to get started with my day in the morning. In the midst of some pretty dangerous burnout, I am healing.

It is an immense relief.

So a huge thank you to Julia Cameron, for saving my skin – and soul – again.

And for you all, some questions. Did you know about The Artist’s Way? (It’s not just for artists and writers. It’s for everyone. We’re all creative beings at our core.) Have you ever worked the program?

Or is there some other way you’ve found to take stock and heal yourself in times of burnout? I’d love to hear!


Some great giveaways are ending soon:

1, First, this month, to celebrate the rollout of the Huntress/FBI series, Thomas & Mercer is giving away 50 audiobooks, a set of all three Huntress books signed by me, and a Kindle Voyage! You can enter on my Contests page.
2. Homicides of March: You can enter here for a chance to win 41 paperback thrillers, including Huntress Moon. Yes, 41!!!

3. And finally, if you’re not already on my mailing list, you can get a free e book by joining here.

Via: Alexandra Sokoloff


Scottish Association of Writers - Story Structure workshop

By noreply@blogger.com (Alexandra Sokoloff)

I’m at the Scottish Association of Writers conference next weekend, as the keynote speaker and teaching a Screenwriting Tricks workshop.

Here are the questions I always ask workshop attendees to answer when I teach – for those attending, or for anyone who wants to play along with the workshop at home! Hopefully all you blog regulars have done this already, but it’s always good to do it for each new project:

The whole principle of what I teach is that we learn best from the storytellers and stories (in any medium) that have most inspired us, and that we as authors can learn a whole new dimension of storytelling by looking specifically at films that have inspired us and that are similar to what we’re writing. So here are a few questions/exercises to get you thinking along those lines:

1. Tell me what genre you’re writing in.

2. Make a list of ten movies and books – at least five movies – that you feel are similar in genre and structure to your work in progress or story idea (or if you don’t have a story idea yet, ten movies and books that you WISH you had written!)

3. Write out the premise of your story. If you’re unclear on what a premise sentence is, here’s a practical explanation with examples.

4. And it can’t hurt to review the Three-Act Structure. But we’ll be going over all of this in class!

If you’re new to this blog, you can take a browse through the Table of Contents.

And if this way of looking at story appeals to you, all the information on this blog and more, including full story structure breakdowns of various movies, is available in my Screenwriting Tricks for Authors workbooks. Any format, just $3.99 and $2.99.

- Amazon US

- Amazon UK

- Amaxon DE

- Amazon FR

- Amazon ES

- Amazon IT

If you’re a romance writer, or have a strong love plot or subplot in your novel or script, then Writing Love: Screenwriting Tricks II is an expanded version of the first workbook with a special emphasis on love stories.

- Smashwords (includes online viewing and pdf file)

- Amazon US

- Barnes & Noble/Nook

- Amazon UK

- Amazon DE

Via: Alexandra Sokoloff


3.19.15 - Mystery Writers of America Cookbook Giveaway

By JT Ellison

Look what’s coming out next week! Recipes from all your favorite mystery writers! I’m telling you, this will become your favorite cookbook. It’s gorgeous, illustrated, and has so many cool recipes. A great addition to any kitchen collection. And there’s a Goodreads Giveaway going on – link below!

Hard-boiled breakfasts, thrilling entrees, cozy desserts, and more–this illustrated cookbook features more than 100 recipes from legendary mystery authors. Whether you’re planning a sinister dinner party or whipping up some comfort food perfect for a day of writing, you’ll find plenty to savor in this cunning collection. Full-color photography is featured throughout, along with mischievous sidebars revealing the links between food and foul play. Contributors include Lee Child, Mary Higgins Clark, Harlan Coben, Nelson DeMille, Gillian Flynn, Sue Grafton, Charlaine Harris, James Patterson, Louise Penny, Scott Turow, and many more.

Win a copy of The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook on Goodreads! Enter by April 3rd at http://bit.ly/1Gq7vUq

Via: JT Ellison


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